A/N - Set pre-Earth. Warnings: Non-explicit death, violence, gore, torture, and cheerful contemplations of all of the preceding. And paint. In sum, Vortex.


It's too bad automatic doors can't bang. Onslaught would probably find it more satisfying, the crash and thump jolting his poor unsuspecting victim out of their thoughts, which are undoubtedly filled with all sorts of nasty guilty things, lurking just beneath the surface. Or not, in this particular instance. I'm actually thinking about paint, so ha, take that, Ons.

But since automatic doors only swoosh, and don't crash unless Brawl accidentally drives through them – again - Onslaught will have to settle for angry foot stomping and ominous looming-over-people.

He's actually really good at it, by the way.

"What the frag did you do, Vortex?"

I roll slightly, until my rotors hit the wall and stop me. Naughty rotors, who told them they could do that? "You'll have to be more specific, Ons. I do lots of things." Only some of which you'll ever hear about, I add mentally.

Oh, Onslaught is furious. Not just foot-stompy-walk pissed, vibrating-with-rage pissed.

Huh. I can't remember doing anything particularly especially infuriating recently. Unless he... nah, that was ages ago. I'm pretty sure evidence woulda turned up ages ago if that was the case. They have to drain the smelters more often than once every ten vorns or so, don't they? If there was anything to find, they woulda found it. So it can't be that.

Onslaught's hands are twitching like they want to grab a rotor and twist it off.

Always entertaining, that, if a tad amateur.

Focus, Tex, I remind myself. Stop daydreaming. Frag, even my mental voice was starting to sound like Onslaught. Obviously, this means I need to get out more. Geez, I haven't even done anything to deserve bein' yelled at recently, and that's just sad.

"Don't fragging play dumb, Vortex!"

Huh. Two swears in two sentences. He's really pissed off. Someone-ruined-the-plan-because -they-weren't-listening-during-briefing pissed. Which is high on the Onslaught Anger Scale, for any voices-in-my-head who weren't paying attention last time.

"Malignin' of my mental acumen aside, I ain't playin,' Ons. This time, at least." Probably shouldn't provoke the angry missile truck, but it's just so funny how his much-vaunted – no, really, he's vaunting it all over the place, it'd be annoying if I wasn't so easily amused – vocabulary devolves when he gets mad. Accent sneaks in, too.

Funny, ain't it, that we both affect accents to change how people listen to us. Difference being – well, two differences, really – that a, I actually come from where it sounds like I come from, and b, he's doing it to sound more... cultured... so people will pay attention to him when he decides to expound on his latest amazing tactical... thingy. Me, I do it for the ironic dissonance between what people think of "education" and "intelligence" don't exactly mix none - see what I did there? - with backstreet Kaon drawl and syntax. They hear a little broken grammar, and suddenly can't wrap their pitiful little processors around the idea that I might be smarter than them.

I said I was easily amused, didn't I?

Easily distracted, too. Onslaught had started talking again, and I missed it.

Not like it's hard, I just have this auto-tune-out thing with Onslaught. I think it's the accent. All smooth and regular and lull a mech right into a snooze...

Focusss, Vortex, focus.

I tilt my head, curious. "... Did you just say somethin' about a body?"

For a moment, I think he's going to hit me. That's alright, I really don't mind it when he does.

But he calms himself. Aw. "Yes." His words are clipped, as he gets his temper back on the tight rein he keeps it on. "A body. In pieces. Lots of pieces."

Oo, that's more interesting. To me, that is. Not sure why it's so important to Ons, though.

So I ask him.

If he clenches his fists any harder, he's going to pop a servo.

"Because it's a Decepticon body."

"Aaaand?" Seriously, that can't be it. I've killed plenty of Decepticons. Heh, he's killed plenty of Decepticons. Usually publicly, where as most of mine are still officially missing, but hey. Same principle.

"And it's not supposed to be dead!"

Oh, sudden volume increase. That's probably not good. For someone.

Probably me, judging by Onslaught's posture.

Why wear a battlemask if you're just going to telegraph everything anyway-

...Apparently he really wants me to pay attention. He's got his hand wrapped around my shoulder-plate, and by around, I mean his fingers are under the plate, wrenching and hauling me off my nice comfy berth.

Y'know, I don't think shaking me is gonna make this work better, Ons.

"I'm sick of cleaning up after you, Vortex! I'm not your fragging maid-"

"Ons," I start, twisting my head to look at him, despite the rather inconvenient hand in the way.

"I will not tolerate you allowing your... proclivities... to affect the operation of this unit-"

"Ons..." I punctuate it this time with a kick in the midsection he doesn't seem to notice.

He gives me another, harder shake to shut me up. Onslaught's really strong, have I mentioned that? Makes me feel like I've got wires loose for a second.

"You will give me a straight answer Vortex, or I will-"

"Onslaught!" I palm a blade, a small disposable one, and stick it through the plating of his forearm for emphasis, and get thrown back into the wall for my trouble. Pretty sure that was reflex on his part. Woulda hurt more if he meant to do it, and he woudn't have let go. I swear, the guy gets in a bashing-people-into-the-wall rut if you let him get started.

"Like I was sayin'," I tell him primly, catching my balance again and brushing imaginary dirt off. "It ain't my body, it ain't my mess, ergo, it ain't my problem."

His fingers twitch again. Sometimes I think it's my grammar that gets him so wound up, rather than my quote, "disrespect," end quote. Must be annoying; he probably worked for vorns to get his perfect dictation down. Wonder what he'd do if I told him that I know he's faking it?

"Did you or did you not kill someone last night?" he demands.

Hey, he was finally listening. Kinda. He's still ticked; ain't acknowledging the little trickle of fluid running down his arm at all. "Nope. Not a single dead body from yours truly."

He doesn't seem satisfied. "Did you cause anyone's death? Or serious bodily harm? Or any kind of harm, major or minor, for that matter?"

Yeah, I know, it's all repetitious and exhausting of him, but he's learning. The problem with having subordinates smarter than you is that there's these things called loopholes. So Ons has gotten rather careful to go into extreme detail as to what he's asking we did, what he's telling us to do, and most especially what we're not supposed to be doing.

This would probably work better if I listened to what he was saying more often.

"Nope," I tell him cheerfully. "I'm horrified that you would think such things of me, really." And I am - "any kind of harm," really? I only go in for two types. Grievous bodily harm, and.. well, grievous psychological harm. He shoulda figured that one out by now.

Unless I'm the harmee instead of the harmer. I admit I've been known to sample the full spectrum from that side of the table. But that's neither here nor there, since last night was actually rather boring.

"Was here all night," I add when Ons give me that look like he's going to get in that smash-people-into-walls rut again. "Me, a cube, and a datapad full of reports about Beastbox's interrogations. Hilarious stuff, really. Wanna see?"

Onslaught doesn't look interested in watching the reports. His loss. He glares at me for a while longer – for effect, I think, but really he should know better by now – then turns and stalks out, looking nearly as angry as when he came in.

Me, I grin behind my battlemask. Forget Beastbox, this has my curiosity piqued.